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Thread: Flatlanders Go West

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Kokomo, IN
    Posts
    128

    Default Flatlanders Go West

    DISCLAIMER: First time attempting a trip report, be easy on me. This was a 5 week trip so I might be slow on the updates, going to try to do it in state by state "Chapters"
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    Flatlanders Go West
    Alpine Loop
    Overview
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    PART I:The Beginning
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    PART II:Society
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    PART III:Lows
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    PART IV:Just a Couple of Tourist
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    PART V:Highs
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    PART VI:Green to Red
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    After a year of planning with Excel sheets, research, google maps hotlinks, research and thousands of dollars on a 2001 XJ that never seems like it was going to be ready, the time had finally come to leave our home in Indiana for a trip of a LIFETIME. The vehicle we chose was a 2001 Jeep Cherokee, former fire department k9 vehicle. Build thread can be seen here if interested, MORTY.
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    But the Major modifications are
    • OME 3" lift
    • 4.0L Auto
    • 4.10 regear
    • ARB front locker
    • Rear Detroit Trutrac LSD
    • ARB OBA
    • Tepui RTT
    • TuffStuff Awning
    • JCR Offroad Vanguard front bumper
    • Warn VR8s
    • JCR Offroad Vanguard rear bumper W/ Adventure tire carrier
    • Obsession Offroad rock sliders
    • Cooper STT Pros

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    In the end by the numbers
    35 Days on the road.
    6,689 Miles.
    465 Gallons of gas.
    11 States.
    18 National Parks & Forests.
    7 Off road trails.
    4 Mountain Passes.
    1 rear hatch.
    1 thumb.
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    Last edited by Mr_Miyagisan; 01-04-2018 at 05:22 PM.
    2001 Overland XJ: MORTY
    Instagram:@gaijin_overland

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    West Coast, So Cal ~ in the U. S. of A .
    Posts
    80

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    185
    Can't wait to follow along. I've got a 2001 Cherokee that I got in high school that we still have around. I'd love to spend a couple months building it out.
    Scenic City Overland
    2010 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara:
    35" GoodYear MTR Kevlars / 2.5" Rough Country Lift Kit / Warn Elite Front Bumper / 30 Inch LED Bar / Ace Eng Pro Rear Bumper & SwingAway / Uniden CB / Diablo Tuner (Tuned by RPM) / XRC Rock Sliders / 10k X2O Winch (Synthetic) / AEV 3.5 inch Springs in the garage
    Expo Trailer: Build Thread
    Tepui Autana Sky Tent / Custom Expo Trailer

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Kokomo, IN
    Posts
    128
    Part I
    The Beginning
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    Clark Fork along Morrison JT by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr
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    N 3857'33.80"
    W 9515'55.73"
    Galveston,IN

    In the weeks prior to us leaving I found myself scrambling to get the rig ready for this trip, having not installed a plethora of new parts waiting in the living room and the ones not even ordered. We were lucky enough to receive a great discount/sponsorship from JCR Offroad about a month before we were scheduled to leave. This allowed me to massively upgrade the bumpers that were on the Jeep but coming at the cost of a time crunch. JCR doesn't have a huge amount of parts in stock, specifically bumpers and most are made to order. The guys at JCR helped out a lot by shipping the pieces I ordered as they were finished, saving me the trouble of installing everything at one time.
    First to make it in the Rear Vanguard bumper. High quality piece and well thought out design.
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    Next was the front Vanguard winch bumper, great looking functional bumper with nice tie in brackets and high entry angle clearance. Just with these two installed the Cherokee really started to look the part.
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    While waiting for the tire carrier to come in I had a local shop do up some custom rock sliders. Obsession Offroad is a small custom fabrication and offroad shop in Marion, Indiana and Brad, the owner and sole employee is a great guy and extremely knowledgeable. Having gone to him to install my locker and set my gears in the past and seeing a lot of his work, I went to him for sliders and a HD tie rod. Of course they came out great and had an easy install, nice thing about his tie rod is that is uses beefier OEM rod ends from a Dodge truck. Meaning not only can you find them in basically all autoparts stores, but you get the warranties for them too.
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    Not a day after I got all those things installed, my tire carrier showed up on the porch. Another great piece of kit from JCR and a smooth install. Getting the tire carrier on really made the Cherokee ready for some heavy miles offroad without the worry for a blown tire and allowing the bolt on of a few other accessories like a Hi-Lift, CB, and extra fuel.
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    JCR designed it to allow the use of Rotopax but I didn't think that would be enough fuel for what we were intending. I ordered to Waiven 20L fuel cans, designed up some brackets and ran to Brad's at Obession to get them bent up. With those last pieces installed we were ready to load the Jeep up with only hours to spare before we got a last night's rest, for a 3am leave time the next day.

    Loaded Up by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr
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    September 3rd..
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    Alarm screaming, eyes snapped open.
    Today is the day.
    Quick showers, double checking bags. Me, Jordan (my wife), and Domo our Blue Heeler hopped into our home for the next 35 days. We are off.
    5 miles down the road I hard brake ..damn forgot the camera. At least I remembered it at that point not hours away.
    First day of driving was a tough one, we had done it before two years prior. Galveston, IN to Rapid City, SD., almost 17hrs with fuel stops and just over 1,000 miles. Thought behind this was to get as far west as possible as soon as possible so we have just that much more time out of the flatland.
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    5 Fuel stops later, we can see Badlands NP on the horizon. We stop. Having skipped it last time we didn't want to do that again. The air was thick with smoke, visibility was poor from the wild fires raging across the border in Montana. Still an incredible site to see and glad we made a quick stop.
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    We rolled up to our friends, Ashley and Michael, around 11pm local. Ashley was on a solo trip to Colorado and Michael slowing down after a day ripping up trails on his dirt bike. Quick chats over a beer or two and we turned in for the day. Insane how much a long drive can take out of you, even with a handful of Redbulls.
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    The next morning wasn't quite as early and were we grateful for that. Slow to get moving we spent a good amount of time just sipping coffee for the day. Ashley was on her way back from her trip so we decided we would stay for the rest of the day, in the mean time head out to Rushmore and the black hills that afternoon. We'd make our way back to the house in time for Ashley to make it back, have some dinner and another night in a comfy bed. Knowing the nights of actual beds would be few and far between we were pretty happy with that plan.
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    If anyone has been to Rushmore they know dogs aren't allowed. We have had Domo for about a year and a half, he is a well behaved pup for as young as he is and we recently started training him to be a service dog for Jordan. Being fairly new to the specific training we decided to leave him in the car for our quick run up to see the monument so we wouldn't have to deal with the questioning the comes with a service animal.
    Domo didn't like that.
    Being super attached to us and going everywhere we do back home, he isn't use to us leaving him in the car like that. Poor guy barked the entire time and we could HEAR him from the car park. I snapped a few pictures and we left in fear of some do-good Samaritan busting out our windows to 'save' him. We drove out behind Rushmore at a suggestion from Michael to hike around and see the area. Domo could run around with us out there so we spent a few good hours wandering around the woods with George Washington's dome as a backdrop.

    Rushmore by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr

    Black Hills by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr

    Boulders by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr
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    After Jordan scavenged for all the rocks she could fit in her arm to take home and I was worn out scrambling up and down boulders with the dog, we made our way back to the Jeep and into Rapid City for the night.
    Lots of beer and some good food of the grill the 4 of us caught up. Stories of the past, present and future filled the air. Always good to be with old friends.
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    September 5th..
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    Making our way downstairs we headed out to the Jeep. Ashley and Michael had to be at work early so we said our goodbyes the night before.
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    Back in the XJ we pointed west and headed for Story, WY. My grandfather lives in a small place out there and we were going to spend some time with him for the next couple days. Few hours behind the wheel felt like nothing after our previous drive from Indiana.
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    Made it to his place late afternoon. Some catching up and we made our way to a campground just down the road. We planned on setting up the rooftop in the driveway but his eagle eyed witch of a landlord was not going to have that. Gene (grandpa) made his way to the campground after we had set up, drank a few beers and ate up some burgers. He is a Korean war vet and makes sure you know it, the stories never run dry with him and he was excited to be telling us them.
    Story Campsite by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr
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    He headed home and we made our way up the RTT ladder with Domo for our first night of camping on the trip.
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    The Next morning we cooked up some eggs and sausage, coffee of course. Packed the Jeep and made our way back up the road to Gene's to let him show us the area.
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    He loaded us up in his '92 Ford Exploder and drove us up to Fort Phil Kearny, pointing out his favorite fishing holes along the way. Some time spent there and seeing the Wagon Box Battle Monument earned us a meal in nearby Sheridon, WY at grandpa's favorite Chinese buffet.
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    Full on fried rice and Sweet & Sour we made it back to his place and hopped into the Jeep to go set up camp. Just like clockwork Gene putted his way into camp an hour later in the Maroon Monster. Beers, stories and a surprise gift. He thought it was insane for us to be doing this trip without a gun, frankly I did too but I didn't have the time to get something before we left. He passed me a older .38 special, neat looking pistol.
    With the beers empty, he decided it was time to leave. Up the ladder we went. Another great night in Story.
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    September 7th..
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    8am. Eggs, Sausage, Coffee. Morrison Jeep Trail today.
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    Stopped into my grandpa's for a goodbye. Looked over some paper maps and showed him the area we should be in for the next couple days. He made note of it in case something were to happen. Hugs and some pictures. We leave.
    Jumpers by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr
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    Making our way through the Bighorn NF out of Sheridan, WY through our first mountain pass, topping out around 8,700 feet. We finally felt like we were out west now. Coming down the other side and I am reminded how much the Cherokee is loaded up. Hot brakes driving down the steep grades, I pull off to let them cool.

    Domo by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr

    DSC_2923 by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr

    DSC_2887 by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr
    Couple hours later we are looking at the Morrison Trail Sign outside of Cody, WY. The First real test of the Cherokee's setup and the biggest test of my driving skill to date.
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    Air down. Disconnect. Ready.
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    Incredible drive into a valley, crawling onto Shoshone NF land, the trail is mild but bumpy. Over a hill into an open area along Clarks Fork of Yellowstone River. Massive washout area that I imagine is close to impassable when the water is high. We jumped out to take some pictures and let Domo run in the river before the switchbacks that he wasn't going to enjoy.
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    Getting back into the jeep, we start driving around the bend. There they are. Enormous and intimidating to even the most confident. The Switchbacks. Not three weeks prior to us being in that spot, an elderly couple rolled their side by side off one of the switchbacks. Killing both of them, a bit of info I probably shouldn't have told Jordan before we got there....
    Last edited by Mr_Miyagisan; 12-02-2017 at 01:26 PM.
    2001 Overland XJ: MORTY
    Instagram:@gaijin_overland

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    182
    Such an awesome Jeep. I'd always wanted to find a '98 or '99 in Chili Pepper Pearl red to match my TJ, and build it for overlanding.

    Looking forward to reading about your trip!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    233
    Great job thus far, thank you for sharing and we look forward to the rest of the story.
    Happy Trails & Safe Travels
    Build- http://forum.expeditionportal.com/th...W-explorations
    Explorations- http://forum.expeditionportal.com/th...-Picture-heavy
    Freelance FireFighter & A-EMT Remote Medic,
    04, chevy 2500, flatbed, icon stage 2 suspension, chip,intake,4:88,rear locker

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    109
    Looks like a great trip. It's good to see you out exploring in the XJ

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    185
    Great trip so far! Really enjoying it.
    Scenic City Overland
    2010 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara:
    35" GoodYear MTR Kevlars / 2.5" Rough Country Lift Kit / Warn Elite Front Bumper / 30 Inch LED Bar / Ace Eng Pro Rear Bumper & SwingAway / Uniden CB / Diablo Tuner (Tuned by RPM) / XRC Rock Sliders / 10k X2O Winch (Synthetic) / AEV 3.5 inch Springs in the garage
    Expo Trailer: Build Thread
    Tepui Autana Sky Tent / Custom Expo Trailer

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Minneapolis SW Metro Minnesota USA
    Posts
    148
    Excellent trip report, As a flat lander from Minnesota I cant wait to see / read about your trip up the Morrison Jeep Trail.
    Myself and 4 other expeditionportal members where there on the Morison Trail when the older couple went off one of the switchbacks.
    We where the ones that called 911.
    Here is a link to one of the e-news articles about what happened:
    http://www.codyenterprise.com/news/l...e459cf219.html
    2012 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab Pro-4X, Radflo, SPC, PRG, Bilstein, Shrockworks , Leer, Antec, Magnaflow.
    My Truck "The Moose" build thread Click on the link below:
    http://www.expeditionportal.com/foru...stories-MNCarl

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    S. CA
    Posts
    49
    Great adventure! Like your story telling.

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